People of Color Suffer from Mental Health Issues Too

The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.

by Hannan Abdi, Editor in Chief

A persistent and toxic pattern outlines the mental health community- an abridge of the inclusivity of people of color- has led to misunderstandings of the way people of color express their emotions. What allows for people of color to remain outliers within society, to inherently feel illegitimacy smother our experiences? Must we always politicize our sadness in order to be heard?

An aspect that is ignored is the devastatingly low percentage of people of color who are professionally licensed psychologists— the lack of Black and

Brown therapists ignites the stress affiliated with receiving help and diagnostic treatment. I still feel uncomfortable when addressing racial trauma in front of white peers, yet I become much more stressed when I think about having to explain it to a white therapist. What kids of color are born with is the burden of ancestral trauma– children of immigrants and refugees carry a burden of having to please their families differently than white families. The burden of being of the first to be born in America, while simultaneously enduring the struggles of their parents, puts too much stress on children and makes them reach their boiling points.

The data shows the significant decrease in receiving mental health services between white children and children of color. Photo by National Center for Children in Poverty.

The data shows the significant decrease in receiving mental health services between white children and children of color. Photo by National Center for Children in Poverty.

The absence of a mental health community within black and brown families is also alarming. Brown kids adapt to the belief that they are supposed to be untamed and emotionless in order to be perceived as strong– therefore, concepts such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, along with numerous other disorders, hold no accountability. ‘Strong black women’ have no room to be vulnerable, young Latina girls are ‘fiery’ and are withheld childhood- young black and brown men are “tough.”

A general piece of advice I’d like to give anyone– regardless of color, is to develop self awareness. Self awareness is not a trait, it is a skill that means having a conversation with yourself instead of making harsh, invaluable judgments, judgments which are detrimental to your emotional growth. It is to realize when something you’ve been doing, thinking or feeling is outside your bounds of normalcy. The pain we experience as a collective, in black and brown bodies, are real- both physically and mentally. The sadness of people of color should not be taken lightly.